Marc Broussard is happy to veer from the beaten path. The Louisiana-based singer, songwriter and bandleader just wrapped up a tour following the release of last year's self-titled album, but he's itching to make a detour before heading to L.A. and starting a new recording. With that in mind, Broussard returns to town this this Thursday, March 22, for a stop at Toad Tavern. We recently caught up with the songwriter, who was raised and reared on the bayous of Louisiana, and talked to him about his love for the Centennial State, as well as his upcoming plans for a fresh release and different musical directions and more.
Westword: It's been nearly a year since you released your last record, Marc Broussard, but I wanted to start by asking about the creative process behind that release. Carencro in 2004 was pretty solidly rooted in your New Orleans roots; 2007's S.O.S. Save Our Soul was almost all cover tunes. How did you want to distinguish this latest record?
Marc Broussard: The writing process for this release wasn't any different than all of the other records that I've done. You know, I was basically in a room with a friend or a couple of friends who were songwriters, and we tried to write some hits. Whenever anybody feels strongly enough that we've got a body of work strong enough that we can go into the studio with, we go into the studio. It's about a six-month process typically. It's been fairly consistent. With this record, it was different in that I wrote a lot of the material with the guy who ended up producing the record, Jamie Kenney, and he and I just hit it off in such a big way that we were able to knock out this project, almost entirely.
Did you record at your homebase in New Orleans?
No, we recorded in a studio called Dockside Studios in open Louisiana. It's on a fifteen-acre stretch right along the Vermillion River. The studio is in an old bar, and it's a great place to record. It's definitely out in the sticks. Everybody can stay there, there's room for about twelve people to stay there. You don't really need the compound when you're working.
You're no stranger to nontraditional setups for recording and touring. You're a veteran of the Rockboat festival, a "floating music festival" that takes place in the confines of a Carnival cruise ship. That venue was the inspiration for the 2008 EP This Must Be the Water. How did you get involved in that event?
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I'm not exactly sure how we made it on that first Rockboat, but we were called up and offered this cruise that I had never heard of ... We were offered a sum of money to play on this boat porting out of Miami or Fort Lauderdale. I was going to take my wife, my parents came, my brothers as well. It was kind of a big vacation for us, and ever since then, every time they call we take the opportunity. My wife and I get to take a cruise ship vacation and make a little money at the same time.
We've done it since '06. It's different in the fact that you're on vacation with all of your fans, so me and my wife were out on the deck hanging out and trying to catch some sun and a few wayward souls made their way over and wanted an autograph and a picture. It doesn't happen nearly as much as you might think it does. Luckily, most of the folks on that boat are real cool and they get it. As a show, it's not different than any of the others, except the stage moves a bit more than in other places. When the seas get moving, it can be a bit hairy to stand in front of a microphone stand.
I imagine it affects the whole dynamic on stage.
No doubt about it. One of my musicians got sick during the show, so he couldn't finish the gig. It gets rough out there, no doubt.
Going from there to your appearance in Denver, this isn't part of a larger tour, right?
No, these shows that I'm doing in Colorado are just shows in Colorado. They're not associated with any tour that's going on. We just got back from the road... We did a string of dates up the east coast and across the South. This isn't a tour.
What was the inspiration of coming out to Denver for a single gig?
Any more inspiration than the gig's in Colorado, and you're talking too much, man. I love that state, it's gorgeous. We've always had fantastic trips out there. I'm from the bayou, where everything is real flat. I get a nice view out there and make sure I get a look out the window every day.
Are you going to debut any new material while you're out here?
There's actually going to be new material in this set. I've written about seven songs in the last month or two, and we'll probably play three or four of those tunes. It's a lot of fun more me, man. I like throwing in new material, I've always thrown in new material before it's been on albums. It's been no different with this new material that I've written in the past month, other than the reaction of the fans has been overwhelming in the positive. That's not always the case, so I'm real excited about this new stuff.
Are these appearances a precursor to more touring?
I'm actually going to head out to L.A. to do some more writing because we're ready for another record. It's been about a two-year cycle with a release and the following year being focused on that release, the subsequent year being focused on the new album. We're ahead of the curve on this new album.
There seemed to be a fairly wide range of material and styles on Marc Broussard, sounds that ranged from the emotive strains of "Lucky" to the rawer dynamic of "Could You Believe." Can we expect similar cues in the new material?
Those two songs are definitely very different. I think this album is going to be a lot simpler, a lot more rock-oriented as opposed to soul-oriented. I don't know, man, it's kind of a journey when I start this process, so I really don't know where it's going to end up. As of right now, the material is leaning toward a really nice rock album that I think is going to be influenced by some stuff that hasn't really come into the picture before, more Black Crowes and Brandon McKnight.
That being said, it's not difficult to pick up on common roots in your oeuvre. S.O.S. hinted at the prime role of Southern soul and roots music in your musical approach. Do you think that's an element that will ever disappear?
I think that's something that I won't be able to escape, not that I would ever want to. I think there's a simplicity in the lyric and a beauty in the lyric in some of that old stuff that I'm really trying to tap into these days, not try to over think things and not try to be too cerebral. I just want to shoot from the hip and come from the heart and hopefully, somewhere in the middle, you find a nice song.
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